SHOPPERS in York are being urged to cover their faces from tomorrow – but police are asking people NOT to phone them if they spot anyone breaching the new rules.
Superintendent Charlotte Bloxham, silver commander for the response to Covid-19, said demand on North Yorkshire Police’s services is almost back to normal pre-coronavirus levels, and so it has to prioritise where it deploys its officers.
“We will take a sensible approach to enforcement and hope people understand that we cannot attend every incident,” she said.
“To that end, please bear this in mind before reporting anyone for not wearing a face-covering.
“To help keep our phone lines free for urgent policing matters, we urge anyone who wishes to report a breach of the regulations, to do so via our online coronavirus reporting form which can be found on our website. Please only call if a situation escalates and your safety is threatened.”
She said that as with the policing of previous coronavirus regulations, she knew the vast majority of people would do as the Government had asked, as they knew how important it was to protect themselves, their families and other people.
“Since the new regulations were announced, we have been liaising with local retailers to explain how we will police these new regulations,” she added.
City of York Council said it was encouraging those who could wear one to do so to keep others safe.
“There is growing evidence that face coverings help stop the spread of the virus so please wear one if you can,” it said, warning that from tomorrow, those who don’t wear a face covering can be fined £100.
But it said it was also encouraging residents to be mindful that not everyone will be able to wear one, especially as some medical conditions will not be visible.
It said exemptions include:
• young children under the age of 11
• Those unable to put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability
• if putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress
• if you are travelling with or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading to communicate
• to avoid injury, or to escape a risk of harm, and you do not have a face covering with you
• to eat or drink, but only if you need to
• if a police officer or other official requests you remove your face covering
It added that there were also scenarios when you are permitted to remove a face covering when asked:
• If asked to do so by shop staff for the purpose of age identification
• If speaking with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound. Some may ask you, either verbally or in writing, to remove a covering to help with communication
Cllr Runciman, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:“Face coverings, alongside regular hand washing, social distancing and those who have symptoms staying home and getting tested remain the best defense we have against the virus.”